this time every year it’s no secret that a certain group of 2-yr-olds are already
targeting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Generally that is because of where they
stable, who their trainer is, and of course the price tag that landed in them in
that’s only a very small portion of the Juvenile talent. 2-yr-olds can be
rather unpredictable on a couple of different levels. First is the most obvious: Maturity. These amazing thoroughbreds can have the pedigree
of a champion but every trainer that handles this endowment is always keeping
the timeline in order. When they’re ready, they’ll move on. When they need more
time before they can make it to the graded stakes level is when the Breeders’
Cup Juvenile may be skipped and the 3-yr-old season becomes the new target.
consistent variable that puts 2-yr-olds on the fast track to the Breeders’ Cup
Juvenile are the results in the key Graded Stakes Races run between August and
mid October. While some of these wins are no surprises others can become another
unpredictable ingredient on the trail to the Juvenile. Because connections opt
to give their young horses a shot and enter them into one of these stakes doesn’t
mean that they won’t be surprised if they win. They’ll tell you afterwards that
they knew they could but at this age is when there’s no definite estimate on
when their horse will make that big jump in class. When it does in this series
of Stakes Races is when the Juvenile becomes a race worth going after.
let’s take a look at the Graded Stakes races with BC Juvenile implications that
have already run and those that are still on the horizon.
stakes race is not included in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Challenge Series (Win
& You’re In) but the performance we witnessed by the winner, Know More,
left no doubts that the Juvenile is where he is headed. Do these silks look
familiar? Trained by Doug O’Neil and Owned by Paul Reddam, the connections for
last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, Know More is
a legitimate Juvenile contender.
a rare feat for a horse to open their racing career against Graded Stakes
competition but that is where Know More began before he took the Best Pal in
convincing fashion. With Garret Gomez aboard Know More was positioned nicely in
5th behind swift fractions before Gomez urged him at the top of lane
and got him to wire in 1:16.14, a ½ length in front of the Filly Heir Kitty and
a full length in front of 3rd place finisher Miss Empire also a
Filly. Heir Kitty and Miss Empire moved on from here to the G1 Del Mar
Debutante so they’ll likely be targeting the BC Juvenile Fillies.
the surprise triumph in the Best Pal Stakes, Know More, was definitely getting
more attention this time around as he broke from the gate as the 8-5 favorite
in the field of 11. But in the end it was Rolling Fog with Rafael Bejarano
aboard who rolled home and scored for Zayat Stables and Bob Baffert.
strategy for Know More was exactly the same: stalk mid pack and make the move
at the top of the stretch. Although it was executed perfectly, Rolling Fog was
just too tough to catch. Stalking no more than a length behind the early pace
setter, Bejarano kept him there until they hit the stretch and put the field
win was Baffert’s 2nd in a row (Drill ’11) and his Record 11th
overall. The win assures Rolling Fog a place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Field as the Del Mar Futurity is a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. Some
of the other key takeaways from the California BC Juvenile Preps thus far is
that both horses in are in good company and on the right path. Since the
Breeders’ Cup will be hosted by Santa Anita they will have an edge with home
known as the Norfolk Stakes, both of these horses are probable. Neither of
these outstanding 2-yr-olds has shown that they aren’t ready for two turns so
it should be a great preview of their Breeders’ Cup Juvenile potential. What makes this race even more interesting is that it
could be the second head to head before they meet for the rubber match – The BC Juvenile. However, this is a
Breeders’ Cup Challenge race so if another horse in the field snags the win,
they will earn an automatic bid.
the East Coast, it is all about Shanghai Bobby. Every fall there is a much talked
about horse that puts himself in the spotlight after a very convincing win.
Because these horses always have top trainers and good bloodlines the spotlight
includes whispers on their chances of becoming the next Juvenile Champ or even
Kentucky Derby champ the following spring.
it stands right now Shanghai Bobby is that horse. By Harlan's Holiday - Steelin'
by Orientate, the colt is Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Starlight
Racing. Entering the Hopeful a perfect 2 for 2 and with Rosie Napravnik back in
the irons, the score drew a lot of well earned attention.
main reason this win was so significant was because he raced against a field
filled with class. 2nd place finisher Fortify and 3rd
place finisher Bern Identity were also on pace to enter the Juvenile so it was
pretty impressive to have taken them out with such a strong drive down the
stretch and winning time of 1:22.72.
big take away from the Hopeful is that this was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race
so Shanghai Bobby has qualified. The other is that all three horses looked
certain to be moving forward on the trail to the Juvenile. Trained by Kiaran
McLaughlin and owned by Godolphin Racing, Fortify has got the potential to meet
or exceed the success of Alpha so he’ll be interesting to watch. It has been
speculated that Bern Identity will eventually pass on the Juvenile but nothing
is certain so we will have to wait until we get closer to the next big Juvenile
Prep on the East Coast.
I love about the Hopeful is that it is an awesome preview for the G1 Champagne so
look for these horses to be the headliners along with Spurious Precision, winner
of the G2 Saratoga Special. But again this race is another Breeders’ Cup Challenge
so if a different 2-yr-old peaks at just the right time their ticket to the
Juvenile will be won.
couple of other races to keep our eyes on:
on the same day as the Champagne this race has one twist that we’ll have to pay
attention to. As we know, Keeneland is a Synthetic Track so it will be
interesting to see who will enter and if the winner will take advantage of their
Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifier. It's likely but since Santa Anita
has gone back to the dirt it will grab our attention.
race is very similar to the Dixiana. While it is not a part of the Breeders’
Cup Challenge it’s still run on synthetics. So, a choice will be given to the winning
connections in regard to the Juvenile so it will also be interesting to see it